Expected Council Action
Due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy, it seemed negotiations on the extension of the authorisation of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) would continue into November. At press time, the Council was set to adopt a one-week technical roll-over of AMISOM’s authorisation before its expiry on 31 October in order to finalise negotiations on a draft resolution that would extend the authorisation for one year.
Later in November, the Council is expected to renew the authorisation that has been in place since 2008 for international counter-piracy action within Somali territorial waters and on land in Somalia. The authorisation was last renewed in resolution 2020 of 22 November 2011 for a period of 12 months. The Secretary-General’s report (S/2012/783) on implementation of that resolution and the general situation with regard to piracy off the coast of Somalia was circulated to Council members on 22 October. This report is likely to be considered by the Council in the context of a broader debate on piracy as a global threat to peace and security proposed by India during its November presidency. (Please refer to a separate brief on this debate.)
Also in November, the humanitarian coordinator for Somalia is due to submit a report to the Council on implementation of the humanitarian access provisions of resolution 2060, which extended the mandate of the Monitoring Group for Somalia and Eritrea. The report will cover implementation of the humanitarian exemption to the asset freeze provision of the sanctions regime and any impediments to the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Somalia. As in the past, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is likely to brief the Sanctions Committee for Somalia and Eritrea on the report. In addition, the chair of the Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri (India), is due to brief Council members in consultations on the Committee’s work.
Key Recent Developments
On 12 October, in its latest AMISOM report, the AU said it would conduct a thorough assessment over the next few months on how it could best contribute to stabilisation of Somalia and asked for a four month technical rollover of the Council’s authorisation in anticipation of the results of the review. In addition, it asked for an immediate expansion of the UN funded support package for the mission to cover the cost of an additional fifty civilian personnel to help strengthen stabilisation efforts in recovered areas as well as reimbursement of contingent-owned maritime assets.
On 16 October, the Council held a debate on Somalia featuring a briefing on recent developments by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, by video-conference. (AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamamra was also supposed to brief by video-conference, but was unable to because of technical problems. His written statement was later circulated to Council members.) With regard to the ongoing strategic review of the future UN presence in Somalia, Mahiga stressed the importance of taking into account the views of the new Somali authorities and said this might require an adjustment in the deadline for reporting back to the Council. (The Council in resolution 2067 asked the Secretary-General to present options by 31 December.)
In Somalia, progress continued along the political track. On 17 October, the Parliament endorsed Abdi Farah Shirdon Saaid as Prime Minister. (President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud had nominated him on 6 October.) He was endorsed by all of the 215 members of Parliament who were present. At press time, a new cabinet had not yet been formed, but its appointment was expected to be imminent.
Piracy activity off the coast of Somalia has seen a significant drop this year. According to the Secretary-General’s 22 October report, the number of attacks by Somali pirates fell from 269 in the first nine months of 2011 to 99 during the same period this year. The report also said Somali pirates were holding 17 vessels and 224 hostages. It attributed the reduction in pirate activity to international counter-piracy efforts. It warned, however, that these gains were fragile and could easily be reversed. It also noted that despite agreement on the need to address the root causes of piracy, “a significant gap still exists in land-based programmes in Somalia to address piracy.”
At press time, Council members were negotiating a draft resolution that would extend the authorisation for AMISOM and its UN funded support package for one year. The resolution, expected to be adopted in early November, would express the Council’s intention to review the operation within six months, based on the conclusions of the review announced by the AU. In addition, the resolution would expand the support package as requested by the AU to provide funding for an additional fifty civilian personnel. It seemed unlikely, however, that it would authorise the reimbursement of maritime assets that the AU had also asked for. Instead, it would express the Council’s intention to revisit this issue as part of the review.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 26 September, during its 21st session, the Human Rights Council (HRC) held an interactive dialogue with the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Shamsul Bari. Bari said that despite continuing violence the situation in Somalia was more hopeful. Returning from a visit to Mogadishu in early September, he said the first tasks before Somalia included the establishment of the rule of law and rebuilding the justice sector. It was also crucial for the executive branch to deliver basic services to the people. On 28 September, the HRC adopted a resolution on Somalia in which it condemned the grave and systematic human rights abuses perpetrated against the population (including women, children, journalists and human rights defenders), expressed deep concern at the continuing attacks against journalists in Somalia and reinforced the mandate of the independent expert.
The extension of the AMISOM authorisation will remain a key issue for the Council in November.
The other main issue is the renewal of the anti-piracy authorisation and whether any revisions or additional provisions should be considered.
A related issue is the need for Somali authorities to develop a comprehensive counter-piracy strategy and implement all the postponed elements of the roadmap for ending the transition in Somalia pertaining to maritime security, in particular declaration of an exclusive economic zone and adoption by Parliament of a complete set of anti-piracy laws.
Another issue is whether to take up any of the recommendations related to piracy from the 11 July report of the Monitoring Group for Somalia and Eritrea, such as designating known pirates or their associates for targeted sanctions or making explicit reference to the Monitoring Group’s role in the fight against piracy in the upcoming resolution.
A further key issue in November is humanitarian access and whether the sanctions provisions are having a positive impact. (In spite of recent security gains, the access situation in Somalia is still difficult, as evidenced by the recent decision by Al Shabaab, announced on 8 October, to ban the UK-based humanitarian aid organisation Islamic Relief from operating in areas under its control.)
An overall longer-term issue once the new Somali government is in place is the need for progress on all key post-transitional priorities agreed at the 26 September mini-summit on Somalia as well as implementation of relevant elements of resolution 2067, which spelled out the Council’s expectations for the next phase in Somalia.
In addition to the AMISOM resolution, the main option for the Council is to adopt a resolution renewing for another 12 months the existing anti-piracy measures and updating other relevant provisions from last year. In addition, the Council could highlight in particular the need for Somali authorities to develop a comprehensive counter-piracy strategy as referred to above. It could also make explicit reference to the Monitoring Group’s responsibility for investigating and identifying key individuals engaged in acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia as well as the movement and investment of piracy proceeds.
On the sanctions side, one option would be for Council members to issue a press statement on the humanitarian coordinator’s report on humanitarian access, addressing specific concerns expressed in the report.
While the Council has expressed its expectation that a new government in Somalia must be appointed expeditiously, Council members seem to share the view that it is important for the next phase to be Somali led and to give space for the ongoing political process without too much outside pressure. At press time, because the absence of a government seemed to delay the UN strategic review, as alluded to by Mahiga in his briefing, it was also expected that the Secretary-General would ask for an extension of at least one month of the deadline to report back to the Council on options for the future UN presence.
With regard to the AMISOM resolution, extending the authorisation for one year instead of four months as requested by the AU was uncontroversial. It was apparently mainly driven by practical considerations to provide more flexibility for the review process in case of any delays. The main sticking point in the negotiations has so far been the question of funding for maritime assets requested by the AU. It seems that while some Council members would strongly support it, including India and South Africa, the US and European members are against it. Their main argument seemed to be that more details were needed about the utility and mandate of a maritime component and what sort of capabilities would be needed and that it would therefore be best to wait for the results of the review before making a decision on funding.
At press time, discussions on the piracy resolution had not yet begun, but it was expected that the anti-piracy measures would be extended again. While the new Somali authorities had not yet renewed the request for assistance from the international community to fight piracy (a request which, in the form of a letter, has always preceded the adoption of these measures in the past), it was anticipated that they would do so.
The UK is the lead country on Somalia in the Council, while India chairs the Sanctions Committee and Russia has the lead on legal issues related to piracy.
UN Documents on Somalia
|Security Council Resolutions|
|18 September 2012 S/RES/2067||This resolution was on the end of the transitional period in Somalia, laying out Council expectations for the next phase and requesting a report from the Secretary-General by 31 December on the future UN presence.|
|25 July 2012 S/RES/2060||This resolution extended the mandate of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea for 13 months, as well as the humanitarian exemption to the Somalia sanctions regime for 12 months.|
|22 February 2012 S/RES/2036||This resolution authorised an increase in AMISOM’s troop ceiling as well as an expansion of its UN support package and imposed a ban on importing charcoal from Somalia.|
|22 November 2011 S/RES/2020||Renewed for 12 months the anti-piracy measures related to Somalia first established by the Council in 2008 in resolution 1950.|
|22 October 2012 S/2012/783||This report of the Secretary-General concerned piracy off the coast of Somalia.|
|22 August 2012 S/2012/643||This report of the Secretary-General was on Somalia.|
|Security Council Letters|
|12 October 2012 S/2012/764||This letter contained the most recent 60-day AU report on AMISOM requested by resolution 2036.|
|11 July 2012 S/2012/544||The final report on Somalia of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea.|